Reporting from Augusta, Ga.
Luke Donald hit two shots on No. 18 he never will forget. And another on the dangerous 12th hole.
Donald was nine under par, two shots off the Masters lead Sunday, when he gripped his nine-iron at the 159-yard 12th hole. His shot cleared Rae's Creek, but only momentarily, leading to a double bogey.
"Twelve was obviously a killer for me," he said, "probably the one bad swing I made. I pushed it about 10 yards and paid the penalty."
At the closing hole, Donald's drive drifted right and left him with the ball well below his feet.
"I had a really awkward stance, [but] it came out perfectly," he said. "The one time you don't want to hit the pin, it hits the pin."
After bouncing once, the ball hit the flagstick and spun back off the green. But Donald chipped in for what he called "a bit of revenge."
Donald, who finished tied for fourth at 10 under, was vying to become the first man to win the par-three contest and Masters in the same year. He vowed to try to end the jinx next year.
"I'm still going to go for the double," he said.
Phil Mickelson began Sunday thinking a low round might give him an outside shot at keeping the green jacket around his shoulders. By the time he made the turn, those hopes were gone.
If a double bogey at the par-four No. 5 didn't kill them, a bogey to complete a front-side 38 did. Mickelson wound up with a two-over 74, unable to break 70 in any round of his title defense.
"It was a frustrating week [with my] putting," Mickelson said. "I love these greens — I usually putt them well — but I struggled this week."
Mickelson wasn't the only one to notice Augusta National's greens had a different setup than previous years: different pin locations and a fringe cut longer than everyone was accustomed to.
"The greens were so soft, the pins were not tucked, that you could really miss it in spots where you historically can't and still get up and down," he said. "You could be very aggressive this week. It was great. I loved the way it was set up, but I didn't take advantage of it."
Even though the Masters leaderboard featured few Americans, European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal is not figuring his team will be the favorite in 2012 at Medinah Country Club, outside Chicago.
"No, it's just a question of having the players play well that week," he said.
Olazabal called Medinah No. 3 "a tree-lined course that only favors one golfer — the one that hits it straight. The finishing holes are quite tough and quite long. But it favors the steady player — straight off the tee and onto the greens because the greens are quite small also."
Will he have steady players like that?
"Hopefully 12," Olazabal said.
Masters officials upped the ante this year, boosting total prize money to $8 million from $7.5 million.
Mickelson's 2010 victory was worth $1.35 million. Charl Schwartzel earned $1.44 million.